Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Army raid shatters peace in small Basilan fishing community

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 22): Army raid shatters peace in small Basilan fishing community


An unusual phone call from her husband brought Nurhidaya Hassan to the horror that struck a fishing
community in Basilan which the military raided on March 8 after it was mistaken for an Abu Sayyaf hideout.

Nurhidaya knew something was wrong when her husband, Billamin, called at 5 a.m. and all she heard on the other line were noises, people shouting and her husband pleading for his life, and for children, to be spared.

“I heard him pleading (for mercy),” said Nurhidaya, who stayed at home in Campo Islam here while her husband worked in Tung-umos in Tapiantana Island in Tabuan Lasa town, Basilan.

Tung-umos was the site of a project given members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by the Bangsamoro Development Authority (BDA), a government agency helping MILF members turn away from a life of war through livelihood projects.

On March 8, it was raided by soldiers on the hunt for members of Abu Sayyaf.

“He was saying it was a fishing village and there were children around,” said Nurhidaya, recalling what she heard on the other line when her husband called.

“I heard loud noises like there were many people moving around him. Then I heard somebody hit him and his phone went off,” Nurhidaya said.

Community project

Billamin, an MILF member since 2001, had been in Tung-umos to lead up to 20 Samal families in a communal fishing project given by the BDA.

Nurhidaya said she heard her husband explaining to someone that he is a member of the MILF.

“Do not fire, we are MILF men, we are not outlaws,” Yasser Patta, 19, recalled hearing Billamin shout as the fishermen were being fired upon.

Patta, who was in his hut in Tung-umos, said fishermen in the community had just finished unloading the day’s catch and praying in a mosque when the soldiers came.

Around 4 a.m., as Patta said he was preparing to go to bed to rest, he heard bursts of gunfire.

A neighbor, Nuruddin Musadul Muhlis, went out to check but was shot when he reached the boardwalk.

Billamin tried to calm the fishermen down as they ducked for cover.

Jainuddin Suddin, another fisherman, said Billamin tried to assure the people that “it would soon be over and settled.”

Billamin continued to plead for the soldiers to stop firing but his plea went unheeded.

Shouts of pain

A child, Ashab Abuhayr, 11, cried out in pain. Two bullets found their mark in his stomach. He is fighting for his life in a hospital.

Shortly after, couple Hussin and Sarima Abbi shouted in horror when they saw their daughter, Nurmaida, a year and seven months old, dead with a bullet wound in the head.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief, had apologized for the wrongful raid.

“I feel very bad until now,” Galvez told Inquirer.

“I am really very sorry,” he said.

He said the main target of the raid was Mubin Kulin, alias Mulawin, a cousin of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was behind several kidnapping cases.

The military, said Galvez, got tips that nearly 100 Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf members were on Tapiantana Island.

But survivors said what the soldiers raided was not an Abu Sayyaf lair but a community of beneficiaries of the BDA.

Suddin, who was taken by the armed men along with Billamin, said the soldiers came aboard two gunboats and two speedboats.

Masked men

He counted at least 30 soldiers wearing “full-face masks.”

Some nine hours after the horror, Nurhidaya got a call asking her to pick up Billamin’s body outside an Army Special Forces camp in Isabela City. She was told four bullets hit Billamin.

Police in Basilan identified one Mobin Kulin, a “suspected Abu Sayyaf,” as a casualty in the March 8 raid. Kulin, police said, was a suspect in the 2000 Sipadan hostage crisis.

Later, Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, Basilan police chief, would identify the dead as Billamin Hassan, but would tag him as an arson suspect.

Nurhidaya was inconsolable. “My husband was not Abu Sayyaf,” she said.

Her husband, Nurdihaya said, was not killed in a gunfight as authorities claimed.

“There was no firefight,” she said. Some of the soldiers, she added, “took the people’s savings of almost half a million pesos.”

She had filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights.

New Malaysian facilitator for Bangsamoro talks

From Rappler (Mar 22): New Malaysian facilitator for Bangsamoro talks

Dato' Kamarudin bin Mustafa replaces the late Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar bin Tengku Mohamed who died of heart failure last year

KUALA LUMPUR MEETING. Representatives of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front held a special meeting in Kuala Lumpur on March 21. OPAPP photo

KUALA LUMPUR MEETING. Representatives of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front held a special meeting in Kuala Lumpur on March 21. OPAPP photo

Malaysian Dato' Kamarudin bin Mustafa on Tuesday, March 21, officially assumed duties as the 3rd party facilitator of the talks between the Philippine government and the dominant Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

He replaces the late Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar bin Tengku Mohamed, who facilitated the successful final peace deal between the two parties during the Aquino administration. He died of heart failure in September 2016.

The two parties held a special meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was also attended by chief presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, government peace implementing panel chair Irene Santiago, and MILF peace implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

The final peace deal, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), is now on its implementation stage. The Bangsamoro Transition Commission is expected to submit to Congress by July 2017 a draft law creating a new Bangsamoro region.

The two parties also signed the terms of reference (TOR) for the implementing panels and extended until March 2018 the mandates of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

2 Malaysian Abu Sayyaf hostages rescued in Sulu

From Rappler (Mar 23): 2 Malaysian Abu Sayyaf hostages rescued in Sulu

(UPDATED) The rescued hostages are among the 5 Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serudung 3, who were kidnapped in July 2016 off the coast of Lahad Datu in Sabah


The Philippine Navy rescued two Malaysian hostages of the Abu Sayyaf on Thursday, March 23, according to the military.

"A Fleet-Marine team composed of sailors and marines under the Joint Task Force Sulu successfully rescued two Malaysian hostages, who were held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group, at 2 am today in the waters off Kalinggalang Caluang near Pata island, Sulu Province," said Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).

Malaysians Tayudin Anjut, 45; and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62, were held by the local terrorist group for 8 months. They were immediately brought to a hospital in Sulu for check-up and interview.

"The... kidnap victims are weak and in a sickly state," Wesmincom chief Major General Carlito said in a statement.

They were among the 5 Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serudung 3 who were kidnapped in July 2016 off the coast of Lahad Datu in Sabah.

Petinglay said the marines launched the rescue operation after they received information that the hostages were tagging along Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya and 30 followers who were hiding at a mangrove area in Barangay Karudong in Kalinggalang Caluang, Sulu.

Galvez said the military is now getting a lot of help from communities.

"Wesmincom troops are continuing pursuit against the kidnap for ransom groups to rescue the remaining kidnap victims and continue the pressure on the Abu Sayyaf to release their hostages and possibly for them to surrender to authorities," Galvez said.

Their recovery followed a Philippine military operation against the kidnappers on a nearby island early last month that left 8 gunmen dead, Galvez said.

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, have been kidnapping people for ransom for decades.

In recent months they have taken to seizing sailors from vessels plying the waters between the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Maritime security officials have warned that the region is in danger of a "Somalia-type" situation unless action is taken.

The International Maritime Bureau said in January the number of maritime kidnappings hit a 10-year high in 2016, with waters off the southern Philippines becoming increasingly dangerous.

The Abu Sayyaf, established with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network in the 1990s, are believed to still be holding 23 foreigners and 6 Filipinos, military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla told Agence France-Presse.

They include Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese captives as well as a Dutch bird watcher abducted in 2012, he added.

Last month the group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement, beheaded an elderly German yachtsman abducted last year after failing to extort ransom for him.

Reports on air strikes available via FOI, army spokesman says

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 23): Reports on air strikes available via FOI, army spokesman says

THE EASTERN Mindanao Command said they are willing to provide post-action reports of any bombing incidents involving aircrafts of the Tactical Operations Group XI.
EastMinCom spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey, in an interview with TIMES, said the new jets of the Philippine Air Force are not being used to deliver bombs in military targets such as camps of the New People’s Army or nearby communities.

Were the AFP to use air support, he said, the TOG is likely to use crew-operated weapons such as heavy machine guns on board choppers such as the MG520s based in Davao City.
“May freedom of information na eh,” Balagtey said, referring to the executive order of President Rodrigo Duterte which allows the release of public documents upon request.
The EO on the FOI does not include state secrets among the information to be readily available to the public. However, Balagtey said that the bomb assessment reports were mandatory and available.

Last week, unverified posts online circulated on social media purportedly showing FA50s dropping “bombs” in Abra.

The military is yet to officially recognize the incidents.

Balagtey echoed the statement of various officials who said that the FA50s currently in the air bases in the Philippines were purchased specifically to train against external threats.

At the moment, there are six FA50s in the PAF’s inventory, with two more on the way. A total of 12 supersonic jets are expected to be added to the country’s air assets.

Balagtey said the standard operating procedure for bombing raids involving aircraft was for ground forces to coordinate the attack. This involves the identification of high priority targets, the directing through the use of coordinates, and the confirmation of bomb damage.

At the moment, the forces of the Eastmincomm have not used the jets yet, he said.

Balagtey said the jets cannot even be used for reconnaissance purposes as these were “too fast.”

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte publicly said the AFP and the Philippine National Police may use all of the new tools in the military arsenal, including the jets and choppers, to combat the NPA.

Winning the hearts of civilians by securing the land, serving the people

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 22): Winning the hearts of civilians by securing the land, serving the people

The 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army in partnership with the 1st Cavalry (Tagpanguna) Squadron, Mechanized Infantry Division, 1st Field Artillery Battalion, Army Artillery Regiment, and 547 Engineering Brigade marked the 120th Philippine Army Day in Zamboanga del Sur through static display of military weapons and Army capability held at the parking lot of Gaisano Capital Mall here on Tuesday.

Unity and direction

“The celebration is an event which reveals our unity and direction to achieve our goal to be a world class Army by 2028,” said LtCol. Benedicto S. Manquiquis, commanding officer of the 1st Civil Military Operations Battalion (1CMOBN).

A static display of weapons, squad demonstration, photo gallery, audio-visual presentation, and concert for the public were among the highlights of the celebration to raise awareness on the programs and services of the Philippine Army.

“The activities showcased the army’s capabilities to the public such as war fighting equipment, humanitarian assistance, disaster capabilities and recruitment program,” Col. Manquiquis said.

An opportunity for the public

Spectators grabbed the opportunity to pose for souvenir photos with the displayed Army assets .

“We give the opportunity for the public to pose for souvenirs with the displayed Army assets, to touch and even take souvenir pictures of the weapons because these are part of the taxes they paid,” he added.

He also said that the civilians joined the Tabak combo by sharing their talents in singing.

Vital role in history

The 1ID remarkably plays a vital role in the history of Philippine Army in the pursuit of peace and progress.

“The Command had participated in numerous peace-building projects and became a key factor in the declaration of Zamboanga del Sur as a peaceful and development-ready province,” he added.

Recruitment booth saves time, money
Edgimar Beloy, an officer of the Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC) of the Western Mindanao State University-External Studies Unit (WMSU-ESU) and other ROTC officers were happy to see that the Philippine Army recruitment booth was installed in Gaisano Capital Mall.

“We were able to file the application forms for soldiers course by not going to the 1ID headquarters in Pulacan, Labangan,” Beloy explained.

“We have saved time and money in filing our application at the recruitment booth,” he said, adding that the public will be aware of the recruitment process and how they can join the organization.

“Through these efforts, we were fully informed on the programs and services they offer to us - civilians,” Beloy concluded.

NPA remnants, activities drop in Central Luzon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 22): NPA remnants, activities drop in Central Luzon

Remnants of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Central Luzon has declined since last year.

During the recent meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council, Army 7th Infantry Division Commander Major General Angelito De Leon disclosed that in terms of manpower, the NPA has significantly dropped for the past three years with only 127 recorded manpower as of 2016.

“The number of affected barangays in the region has likewise been maintained at zero since 2012,” he furthered.

Moreover, NPA activities per province have likewise lowered while recorded activities are mostly in the tri-boundaries of the provinces.

Upon assessing the situation, De Leon disclosed that consistency in exerting effort against the activities of the group is critical since remnants will endeavor to restore their significance.

“The convergence of efforts by local government units and national government agencies to deliver basic services will hasten the conclusion of insurgency. Relative peace and security is favorable [to the residents of the region] and will bring more economic development here,” he stressed.

PNP foils NPA’s sinister plot in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 23): PNP foils NPA’s sinister plot in SurSur

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Surigao del Sur had the belief that it foiled the evil plan of the New People’s Army (NPA) to “sow terror” after overrunning its position in Purok 1, Barangay Tambis, Barobo town, 105 kilometers, south, this city.

At around 1:30 p.m. on March 21, a 30-minute firefight ensued between state forces and rebel groups when Police Chief Inspector (PCI) Manolo Andrew Agcaoili, chief of police (COP) of Barobo Municipal Police Station (MPS), mustered his men together with other PNP forces to conduct a clearing operation.

Coordination was likewise made with the 75th Infantry Battalion (75IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) under Lt. Col. Wilfredo Amoma, which he said had done its part to keep the rebels at bay and not to do more harm in the community.

Agcaoili said the successful operation was jointly carried out together with the 1st Maneuver Company, Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) 13 led by PSInsp. Mawi Arcilla. Also, a little later, reinforcement troops from Agusan del Sur Provincial Public Safety Company, 3rd Maneuver Company, PNP-Special Action Force (SAF), and 11th Special Action Company (SAC) arrived to join the fray.

Earlier, the police officer admitted it had been tipped off about the activity of some highly suspicious armed men believed to be members of the rebel groups roaming around the area. However, sightings had been reported to be there for a couple of weeks already.

Upon arrival, an improvised explosive device (IED) went-off, breaking the windshield of one of the police cars. The enemy also started firing upon the troops which signaled the onset of the fierce gun battle, PCI Agcaoili stressed. The area where the IED was blown up was only three meters away from the national highway, he added. The Barobo town COP also said that the explosive could have been aimed at anybody, citing “To whom it may concern.”

No one was hurt on the government side, but the police chief indicated that the pack of rebels, estimated to be at some 20 to 30 members, could have sustained injuries.

Recovered from the clash site were four gallons of gasoline, four black tents, one black hammock, one crumpled electrical wire, one unit black Nokia cellphone, one metal shrapnel, two flashlights, and a lot more of personal belongings, including a pack of sanitary napkin, Agcaoili bared.

The Barobo police chief had linked the presence of rebels to the upcoming March 29 NPA anniversary, who, he believed seeking to mark their occasion with a bang.

The armed group who had been operating in the area belongs to Guerilla Front Committee (GFC) 19A headed by a certain “Ian” under the Northeastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC), Agcaoili confirmed.

However, he clarified that an in-depth investigation had been ongoing in order to identify in particular the persons behind the plot for the filing of appropriate charges.

President Duterte honors PNPA 2017 graduates

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 23): President Duterte honors PNPA 2017 graduates

The Philippine National Police Academy will be holding its 38th Commencement Exercises this Friday, March 24 at the Gen. Cicero C. Campos Grandstand in Silang, Cavite.

President Rodrigo Duterte will serve as the guest of honor and speaker to lead the graduation rites of the 144 cadets belonging to the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Masidlak Class of 2017.

The graduates comprised of 98 cadets for the Philippine National Police (PNP); 31 cadets for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and; 15 cadets for the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) will march in this year’s commencement exercises.

Masidlak Class of 2017 boasts of 10 excellent cadets with Cadet Macdum D. Enca, class valedictorian, followed by Cadet Midzfar Hamis Omar and Cadet Janace Elcid Pascua Layug Top 2 and Top 3 candidates respectively.

Other guests to give the awards of excellence and grace the event are DILG Secretary, Ismael D. Sueno, PNP Chief PDG Ronald M. dela Rosa, PPSC President, PDDG Ricardo F. de Leon (Ret), Ph.D., PNPA Director, PCSupt. Randolf R. Delfin, BJMP chief JDIR Serafin P. Barretto, Jr., BFP Chief FDIR Bobby V. Baruelo and Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla.

Soldiers' ‘Tribo’ program benefits Batak IP families in Roxas, Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Soldiers' ‘Tribo’ program benefits Batak IP families in Roxas, Palawan

A military official said Wednesday the 4th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT 4) had visited the hinterlands of Barangay Caramay, Roxas in northern Palawan to implement the Tribo (Tribal Bayanihan Outreach) program, which seeks to support local government and non-government initiatives for indigenous peoples (IPs).

Capt. Wanel Ansa, the Battalion's environment management (EM) and civil military officer (CMO), told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview that the TRIBO provided refreshments to over a hundred Batak children and adults; distributed canned goods to around 55 IP families, assorted clothes, shoes, and sandals; and donated soccer balls, toys, and multivitamins at Sitio Nanabu, Caramay in the former silica mining town of Roxas on Tuesday.

Books from the non-profit international development organization Asia Foundation were also donated for the children through the Nanabu Indigenous Peoples Elementary School (NIPES), the Crossworld Tribal School (CTS), and the Nanabu Daycare Center (NDC), whose building was coincidentally inaugurated on the day of the visit.

Sitio Nanabu is a cultural enclave of around 55 Batak families composed of nearly 200 adults and children in the uncharted areas of Roxas municipality.

Surrounded by large natural elevations, Nanabu is an exquisite human settlement in Caramay that is not often visited as it is around 14.9 kilometers from the northern Palawan arterial road, said Ansa.

"The distance is what keeps more visits from happening. When it's raining hard, those who want to help cannot go to Nanabu because the river would be flooded. Crossing the river bends is also another challenge; if you go up, wait to get down the next day," he added.

Lt. Colonel Danilo Facundo, commander of the 4th MBLT, said Wednesday afternoon that TRIBO is their "determined attempt to continuously connect with the introverted Batak indigenous peoples in their area of responsibility (AOR) to sustain IP-themed projects of Roxas municipality and various government and non-government stakeholders."

The visit, he added, is also to ensure that the Batak community in Nanabu will not be exposed to dangers or risks as dwellers are "vulnerable and prone to exploitation."

Like other IPs, the Batak people are constantly defenseless and exposed to recruitment by the leftist movement New People’s Army (NPA).

In fact, only in February, three Batak IPs, who were recruited into the NPA movement in Palawan, surrendered to the Western Command (WESCOM).

This is what TRIBO hopes to end – the recruitment of the IPs into something that they do not understand will only push them more to poverty, and a life of danger and fear.

Marly Carceller, 30, a Batak mother, who was among the first to welcome the 4th MBLT and other stakeholders, could not stop smiling and saying her gratitude to her new friends.

"Kami ay nagpapasalamat nakaabot kayo sa amin na may magandang pangangatawan para magpaabot ng tulong sa amin. Salamat po (We are thankful that you're able to reach us in good health to give us help. Thank you)," said Carceller, who knew it is not easy for her 4th MBLT friends to get to their village in Nanabu.

According to recent provided data, the Batak are one of about 70 indigenous peoples' groups in the Philippines. They are located in the northeastern portions of Palawan, southwest of the archipelago. There are only about 500 Batak remaining.

"Also called Tinitianes, the Batak people are considered by anthropologists to be closely related to the Ayta of Central Luzon, another Negrito tribe. They tend to be small in stature, with dark skin and short curly or "kinky" hair, traits which originally garnered the "Negrito" groups their name. Still, there is some debate as to whether the Batak are related to the other Negrito groups of the Philippines or actually to other, physically similar groups in Indonesia, or as far away as the Andaman islands."

The visit was done by the 4th MBLT in partnership with the Municipality of Roxas (LGU), Western Command (WESCOM), the Asia Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Puerto Princesa, Ms. Atila Yap, Ms. Eleanor Enopia, and Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of the Provincial Government of Palawan (PSWDO-PGP).

Military honors fallen Marine trooper

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): Military honors fallen Marine trooper

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) here honored Wednesday afternoon a member of a Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-2) who perished during an encounter between government forces and communist guerillas in the coastal town of Sultan Kudarat on Monday.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr, Western Mindanao command chief, led the Joint Task Force Central headed by Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, also 6th ID chief, in honoring Marine Private Albino B. Bahian III, 24, who died when Marine troopers engaged communist New Peoples Army (NPA) guerillas in Sitio Tinagdanan, Barangay Hinalaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat

The Marines were on security patrol in Hinalaan, a community of Indigenous Peoples, as part of the military’s strategy in winning the hearts and minds of communities being influenced by communist rebels.

At around 10 a.m., the Marines, on board a 6-by-6 truck, was ambushed by rebels belonging to Guerilla Front 73 under Tirzo Sakudal alias “Commander MacMac.”

Marine intelligence officers, quoting statements from residents of Barangay Hinalaan and on condition of anonymity, told reporters that six rebels were killed and 11 others wounded when the Marines fired artillery toward the rebels’ position.

Pursuit military operations continue against the guerillas as of press time.

The military also awarded medals to nine other injured Marine troopers identified as SSgt Alexander C. Falcasantos, Corporals Joseph C. Accad, Castle S. Camu, Robert Paul C de Asis and Marlon C. Ampao and Private First Class Kenneth Dave A. Calaycay and Glenn C. Genova, and Private Jared R. Sugagil.

Mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia of Kalamansig condemned the attacks by communist rebels, whom he accused of influencing the IPs in Barangay Hinalaan to rebel against the government.

"My salute to Private Bahian,” he said. “The people of Kalamansig do not deserve harassment, extortion and atrocities by communist rebels,” he added.

“There are no NPAs in Kalamansig,” Garcia said of his town of 50,000 people. “We do not need you here, we are peaceful here,” he told the rebels in a radio interview.

Garcia said the rebels were from Sen. Ninoy Aquino town, also in Sultan Kudarat, who were trying to infiltrate the upland communities of Kalamansig.

Hundreds displaced as AFP, NPA clash in North Cotabato town

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): Hundreds displaced as AFP, NPA clash in North Cotabato town

Fresh hostilities erupted anew between state forces and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Sitio Malapangi, Barangay Camutan here on Thursday dawn, sending some 100 families scampering to safer grounds.

Chief Insp. Rolando Dillera, chief of Antipas police force, said that government troops encountered close to 100 rebels shortly around 4;00 a.m., prompting villagers to vacate their homes for fear they will be caught in the crossfire.

Dillera said the running gun battle later spilled over to the adjacent villages of Agot and Malire.
The bulk of evacuees are temporarily sheltered at the municipal gymnasium here while others chose to seek refuge at houses of relatives at the town center.

School classes in the affected villages were also suspended.

Municipal social welfare personnel are now attending to the needs of the displaced families.

Dillera said fighting remains intense in the adjoining mountain villages situated some eight kilometers from the town proper.

Intelligence reports said that the rebels are using the area as a staging point to launch attacks against military installations in the boundaries of Arakan and Magpet towns.

“We also received reports the NPA rebels have built a camp in the interior of the mountain village,’’ Dillera disclosed.

Maute Group out for attacks not to be discounted -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Maute Group out for attacks not to be discounted -- AFP

While still to validate the presence of the Maute Group in Metro Manila, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that it cannot discount the possibility that the lawless group might conduct diversionary attacks to stymied the ongoing focused military operations against the bandits in Lanao Del Sur.

"Our focus for now is on coordination (so) we could arrest other members of the group. We cannot (just) discount the possibility of the Maute Group or any of their cohorts out there, to conduct diversionary attacks in Metro Manila and other key cities for that matter, (to disrupt ongoing focused military operations against them)," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in Filipino Wednesday.

He added the arrest of alleged Maute Group member Nasip Ibrahim, 35, married, a native of Marawi City and presently residing at No. 31-Libyan St., Salaam Compound, Barangay Culiat, Quezon City Monday night, bolsters the country's fight against terrorism.
Arevalo also reiterated the AFP is still validating reports from the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the Maute Group has already infiltrated in Metro Manila.

"We are still validating that particular report," he added, stressing that the PNP has its own basis in coming out with that declaration.

"They have at hand pertinent information at that time for them to make that conclusion, what we are saying now is that there is a possibility that this group will be there to conduct diversionary attacks and that is something that we are being prepared about," the AFP official disclosed.

Surveying missions of BRP Gregorio Velasquez part of PN mandate

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Surveying missions of BRP Gregorio Velasquez part of PN mandate

There is no problem should the BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702) be deployed to do another oceanographic and hydrographic survey in the country's newest territory, the 13-million hectare Benham Rise.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, in an interview Wednesday, said this because surveying and mapping of the country's vast maritime territories is part and parcel of the Philippine Navy (PN)'s mandate.

The Benham Rise officially became part of Philippine territory after the United Nations formal award in 2012.

He also disclosed that the ship already conducted an initial study of Benham Rise shortly after her arrival and commissioning in the PN last April 2016.

In her first mission to Benham Rise, the ship and her team of academicians from the UP Maritime Science Institute conducted an initial cataloging and indexing of all marine life in the territory.

Padilla said the BRP Gregorio Velasquez can always return to the Benham Rise to complete her research and other scientific missions that may be tasked upon her.

However, the AFP spokesperson refused to reveal on when the ship would sail again, citing reasons of operational security.

The BRP Gregorio Velasquez (formerly the R/V Melville) is one of the two ex-American ships pledged by then President Barack Obama during his visit to the Philippines during the APEC Leaders Summit in November 2015.

The other ship was the USCGC Boutwell which is now renamed the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) and the third Hamilton-class cutter in the PN service.

The BRP Gregorio Velasquez was commissioned into PN service in April 2016.

The R/V Melville was used in the 1976 movie King Kong, starring Jessica Lange.

It was used specifically because of its Hypoid propulsion drive (at that time), which allowed it to move sideways. This type of drive is used, on research vessels, for station keeping in the ocean over drill and coring sites.

Per policy, auxiliary research vessels are to be named after national scientists, hence her namesake, Dr. Gregorio Velasquez, a pioneer in Philippine physiology.

Velasquez was elected as academician on 1978 and conferred as National Scientist on 1982.

He was conferred with a Distinguished Science Medal and Diploma of Honor from the Republic of the Philippines (1956), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1956-57), Men of Science, Division of Biological Sciences in 1969, World's Who's Who in Sciences in 1970 and the Republic of the Philippines Cultural Heritage award in 1972.

LIMA 2017 to provide PN with view on modern naval technologies

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): LIMA 2017 to provide PN with view on modern naval technologies

The ongoing Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) will provide the Philippine Navy (PN) an opportunity to see first hand modern naval technologies.

This was stressed by PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado who was present in the opening ceremonies of LIMA 2017 held Tuesday (March 21).

“(This is) an opportunity for us to widen our knowledge particularly on modern maritime technologies,” he said.

Such assessments are needed as the PN is now undergoing modernization with various modern naval platforms undergoing bidding, construction, and delivery within the next three years.

Aside from Mercado, also attending LIMA 17 was the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), the country's third Hamilton-class cutter in service and 206 naval personnel, who will participate in the LIMA Sea Exercise, a half-day multi-national naval exercise among participating countries.

LIMA is one of the most influential exhibitions in Asia since this is a dedicated maritime and aerospace exhibition for defense, civil and commercial aviation, shipbuilding and ship repair.

LIMA 2017 started on March 21 and will end on the 25th.

China: No plans to build structures off Scarborough Shoals

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): China: No plans to build structures off Scarborough Shoals

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied earlier reports that they are about to start preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on disputed Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) which is within the Philippines' 100 mile special economic zone (EEZ).

It took the Chinese government five days to deny the statement made by Sansha City Mayor Xiao Jie that China is planning to build structures on Bajo de Masinloc which was published in Hainan Daily newspaper recently. The same paper corrected the false report.

"China places great importance on the preservation of the South China Sea's ocean ecology, this is certain," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press briefing.

"According to the relevant bodies in China, the reports you mention that touch upon building environmental monitoring stations on Scarborough Shoal are mistaken, these things are not true," she said.

"With regards to Scarborough Shoal, China's position is consistent and clear. We place great importance on China-Philippines relations," she added.

China seized the shoal which is northeast of the Spratly islands in 2012, and denied access to Philippine fishermen, but after President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last year, they allowed Filipino fishermen to return in the fishing grounds.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was quick to send a note verbale to China asking for an official explanation.

"We have sought clarification from China on reported plans on Scarborough Shoal," DFA Spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose was quoted as saying.

In a separate interview, Jose emphasized the importance of strengthening the country's defense and maritime domain awareness capabilities.

PHL's FA-50PH fleet to be completed in May

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): PHL's FA-50PH fleet to be completed in May

All 12 units of the brand-new South Korean-made FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft will be delivered and under Philippine Air Force (PAF) control in May.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla made this announcement during an interview late Wednesday.

"By April, FA-50PHs with tail numbers 009 and 010 will be delivered while 011 and 012 be handed over this May. By that time, the PAF's FA-50PH fleet will be completed," he said in Filipino.

Earlier, the PAF said that FA-50PHs with tail numbers 007 and 008 will be delivered to Clark Airbase in Angeles City, Pampanga on March 29.

And due to the initial good performance impressions given by the aircraft, Padilla said that there is a possibility, provided that they are given funding and authority by the civilian leadership, to acquire six more units of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) made jet fighter.

"We are constantly evaluating the jet and so far, it's performance has been good. If we will be given additional funding and authority, we might acquire six more units," the AFP spokesperson stressed.

As of this posting, the jets have conducted over-flights in Visayas and Mindanao airspace and a bombing run against Maute Group lawless elements in Lanao Del Sur last February.

The PAF's 12-plane order from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is worth PHP18.9 billion.

The FA-50PHs has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

The FA-50PHs will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The FA-50PH design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the FA-50PHs.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The FA-50PHs uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

2 Malaysian seafarers rescued from ASG in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): 2 Malaysian seafarers rescued from ASG in Sulu

Fleet-Marine units under Joint Task Force Sulu have successfully rescued two Malaysian seafarers from the clutches of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Pata, Sulu Thursday early morning.

The rescue took place around 2 a.m. off the seawaters of Kalinggalang Caluang near Pata island, in the said province.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, Western Mindanao Command (WMC) spokesperson, identified the rescued Malaysian as Tayudin Anjut, 45 and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62.

The two were rescued by combined elements of the Philippine Marine Ready Force Sulu led by Major Angcap, Marine Special Operations Group, and Marine Battalion Landing Teams 1 and 3 after eight months of captivity.

Both victims were immediately brought by the troops to the Sulu military station hospital for medical check-up and interview.

"The rescued kidnap victims are weak and in a sickly state when they were rescued by our troops. Military doctors are now attending to them as we speak in our hospital in Sulu," WMC head Major Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said.

Earlier, the Marines received information that ASG sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya with about 30 fully armed followers and two Malaysian hostages were hiding at the mangrove area of Barangay Karudong in Kalinggalang Caluang, Sulu.

This prompted government troops to focus their efforts at the reported area in order to rescue the victims.

"This accomplishment is a product of the combined efforts of our soldiers and the different stakeholders in putting pressure on the kidnappers for the past months," Galvez said.

“Following the successful operation of the Marine troops in Capual Island last Feb. 7, where eight Abu Sayyaf members under Misaya were killed, our troops on the ground have maximized their intelligence monitoring and have been closely pursuing the group of Misaya to safely rescue the hostages," he added.

"WMC troops are continuing pursuit against the kidnap for ransom groups to rescue the remaining kidnap victims and continue the pressure on the Abu Sayyaf to release their hostages and possibly for them to surrender to authorities," the WMC chief stressed.

Anjut and Sumas were among the five Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serudung 3 who were kidnapped on July 19, 2016 at the sea waters of Dent Haven, Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah by the group of ASG sub-leader Sibih Pissih.

They were reported missing after their tugboat and barge were recovered without crew members in Tanjung Labian, Lahad Datu Sabah.

2 Malaysians rescued from Abu Sayyaf: military

From ABS-CBN (Mar 23): 2 Malaysians rescued from Abu Sayyaf: military

2 Malaysians rescued from Abu Sayyaf: military

[Video report]

(UPDATED) Two Malaysian sailors held hostage by Abu Sayyaf extremists for nearly a year were released on Thursday, in what the military said was a rescue.

The two were recovered in an operation by Marine troops in the marshland village of Carudong in Sulu, on the Philippines' southwestern tip at around 2 a.m., said military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

The hostages were among 5 Malaysians seized on their tugboat off Lahad Datu in Malaysia last July. Abu Sayyaf had demanded P100 million for their release, according to news reports from Malaysia.

"There was no ransom paid, malinaw po ito na sila ay na-rescue. Sa katunayan, nakita ang 2 sa marshland na takot na takot, pagod na pagod ang kanilang itsura," Arevalo told ANC. (The 2 were seen in a marshland looking very scared and very tired.)

The troops were dispatched to the area after villagers tipped them off on the presence of some 30 Abu Sayyaf fighters and at least 5 hostages.

Arevalo said the bandits fled when the soldiers arrived, leaving behind the hostages Fandy Bin Bakran, 26 and Abdul Rahim Bin Summas, 62.

The Malaysians will be brought to Camp General Teodulfo Bautista on Jolo Island for debriefing, Arevalo said.

The group is believed to be holding 29 other hostages, including foreign nationals, said army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

Abu Sayyaf, which means "bearer of the sword", has capitalized on decades of instability in the southern Philippines and generated tens of millions of dollars from piracy and ransom payments.

It uses the money to buy arms, high-powered boats and modern navigation equipment, allowing it to avoid detection and seize crew of slow-moving vessels with ease.

The group's activities in recent years have been mainly banditry, but the Philippines believes Islamic State has been in contact with members of the group's leadership with a view to gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia.

JICA looking at assistance for PPP projects in Mindanao

From the Business World (Mar 23): JICA looking at assistance for PPP projects in Mindanao

THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is keen on extending assistance to projects in Mindanao that will be undertaken through the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, according to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo M. Montenegro.

In an interview with the media in Davao City, Mr. Montenegro said MinDA is now finalizing some of the projects under the Mindanao corridors program that are not covered in the funding sphere of the government such as the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation.

Mr. Montenegro said the PPP list was among the matters they discussed earlier this year with Japan’s Minister of Economy and Trade and officials of JICA.
Based on JICA’s Web site, the agency’s “efforts that promote public-private partnerships are focused primarily on... cooperation aimed at improving the business environment in developing countries and the support infrastructure development and improvement of public services through PPP in which government and private sector share responsibilities.”

China denies designs on Scarborough Shoal

From the Business World (Mar 23): China denies designs on Scarborough Shoal

THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said the government is maintaining a “close watch” on developments in the South China Sea, as Manila awaits Beijing’s clarification on its reported plan to further build structures on the disputed Scarborough Shoal within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Also on Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry denied reports that China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on the shoal.

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte has drawn flak over his remarks last Sunday, March 19, that he cannot stop China’s activities on Scarborough Shoal -- following a Chinese official’s statements, since revised, on Beijing’s planned installation of an environmental monitoring station in the disputed waters, which are 405 km from the Philippine island of Luzon and 2,659 km from China.

In a press briefing in Thailand on Wednesday, Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo said the Philippine government has already sought China’s clarification on the issue and will wait for its reply.
“In the meantime, the Philippine government is maintaining a regular and close watch over Scarborough shoal,” Mr. Manalo said. “All we can really do is [to] wait for China’s clarification on the reported plan.”

In a text message to reporters yesterday, DFA spokesperson Charles C. Jose told reporters yesterday that the department last Tuesday sent a note verbale to the Chinese Embassy seeking clarification on the said activities on Scarborough Shoal. This is the second note verbale since the one sent on March 10, seeking Beijing’s explanation on Chinese survey ships at Benham Rise northeast of Luzon island and within Philippine sovereign rights.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio has stood out among critics of these developments, in his urging Mr. Duterte to adopt his suggested options that would convey a stronger Philippine position before China -- including a naval response in accordance with the Philippines’ mutual defense treaty with the United States.

Sought for comment on Mr. Carpio’s recommendations, Mr. Manalo said that while the high court justice is “knowledgeable” and “very involved” on these matters, his recommendations “would only swing in under certain conditions.”

“That’s why it is really difficult to comment on them,” Mr. Manalo added.

For his part, Mr. Jose said: “We should maintain the civilian nature so as not to escalate tensions.”

Mr. Duterte has been criticized for deferring since last year his avowed intention to take up with Beijing the arbitral ruling that time by a United Nations-backed tribunal against China’s favor. The ruling stemmed from a 2013 case by the Philippines brought by Mr. Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno S. C. Aquino III.

China seized the shoal following a standoff in 2012, thereby denying Filipino fishermen access to their traditional fishing waters. But the fishermen were allowed to return after Mr. Duterte’s state visit to China last year.

Earlier this month, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what China calls Sansha City, said China planned to begin preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal. Sansha City is the name China has given to an administrative base for the South China Sea islands and reefs it controls.
When checked by Reuters, Mr. Xiao’s comments as quoted by state-backed Hainan Daily had since been revised to remove mention of the shoal.
For her part, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing: “China places great importance on the preservation of the South China Sea’s ocean ecology, this is certain.”

“According to the relevant bodies in China, the reports you mention that touch upon building environmental monitoring stations on Scarborough Shoal are mistaken, these things are not true,” she added.

“With regards to Scarborough Shoal, China’s position is consistent and clear. We place great importance on China-Philippines relations.”

CPP/NPA-NCMR: Sunod-sunod na aksyong militar ang sagot ng NPA-NCMR sa todong gera ni Duterte Laban sa Rebolusyonaryong Kilusan

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 21): Sunod-sunod na aksyong militar ang sagot ng NPA-NCMR sa todong gera ni Duterte Laban sa Rebolusyonaryong Kilusan (Successive NPA-NCMR military actions against Duterte's total war against the Revolutionary Movement).

Allan Juanito, Spokesperson
NPA-North Central Mindanao

21 March 2017

DALAWAMPU’T WALONG aksyong militar ang inilunsad ng New People’s Army ng North Central Mindanao Region mula Enero 30 hanggang Marso 20 ngayong taon bilang sagot sa todong gera ni Pres. Duterte laban sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Labing siyam ang naitalang napatay at mahigit 20 ang sugatan sa reaksyunaryong AFP at nadakip si PO2 Jerome Anthony Natividad sa inilunsad na isang checkpoint. Mayroon ding inilunsad na mga aksyong punitibo laban sa mga multinasyunal na korporasyon.

Ang sumusunod ay detalye ng nasabing mga aksyong militar:

1. Enero 30, 2017 – isang harassment ang inilunsad ng NPA-South Central Bukidnon (SCB) Sub-Regional Command laban sa isang iskwad na tropa ng 8th IB na naglunsad ng operasyong saywar sa Brgy. Concepcion, Valencia City.

Nakapaglunsad din ng aksyong punitibo sa isang mapagsamantalang panginoong maylupa-kumersyante-usurero sa pamamagitan ng pagsira sa pinagmamay-ari nitong buldoser sa Libertad, Quezon, Bukidnon.

2. Pebrero 1, 2017 – Nabaril-patay ng isang iskwad ng NPA-SCB ang tatlong elemento ng tropa ng 8th IB na naglunsad ng operasyong saykolohikal sa Sityo Kalib, Brgy. Kibalabag, Malaybalay City. Matagal nang nananatili ang nasabing tropa ng kaaway sa magkaratig barangay ng Kibalabag at Manalog na lantarang nakalabag sa CARHRIHL at nakalabag din sa kanilang idineklarang unilateral ceasefire. Marami ring kaso ng pang-aabuso ang ipinaabot na reklamo ng mga naninirahan dito. Aarestuhin sana ng operating unit ng NPA sina Sgt. Yee, Cpl. Talabor at PFC Pat O. Non upang papanagutin sa mga nabanggit na kasalanan subalit sila’y nanlaban. Nakuha mula sa kanila ang tatlong kalibre .45 pistola. Sa araw ding ito, isang aksyong militar na naman ang inilunsad ng isang iskwad ng NPA- Mt. Kitanglad Sub-Regional Command sa pamamagitan ng pagparalisa sa isang buldoser na pagmamay-ari ng isang Multi-National Corporation(MNC) na Dole Itucho sa Lantay, Pangantucan, Bukidnon.

3. Pebrero 3, 2017- Nakakumpiska ng isang .45 pistola, isang 9mm Beretta na pistola at isang shotgun ang isang iskwad ng NPA-SCB mula sa kilabot na drug user ng Quezon, Bukidnon. Ang nasabing mga baril ginamit sa pananakot ng mga residente kapag na-high na ito sa droga. Mahigpit itong binalaan ng BHB na itigil ang pananakot sa mga sibilyan at ang kaniyang masamang bisyo.

4. Pebrero 9, 2017- isang multi-platung pwersa ang naglunsad ng tatlong aksyong militar ng pag-reyd, pagtsekpoynt at pagpataw ng aksyong punitibo ang inilunsad ng NPA-Mt. Kitanglad Sub-Regional Command sa Purok 3, ng Ticalaan, at Km 28, Dominorog parehong saklaw ng Talakag, Bukidnon. Nadakip sa tsekpoynt si PO2 Jerome Anthony Natividad mula sa Kalilangan, Bukidnon Municipal Police Station samantalang naparusahan si Lito Atoy, isang bandido na may kriminal na gawain sa mamamayan. Sa kabuuan, sampu ang nakumpiskang samut-saring kalibreng baril tulad ng isang M16, isang carbine, apat na .45 pistola, isang Glock 9mm pistola at tatlong shotgun. Naparalisa sa nasabing aksyong punitibo ang isang buldoser, isang backhoe, isang transit mixer, isang generator set at isang pison na pagmamay-ari ng Mindanao Rock Corporation.

5. Pebrero 13, 2017 – Mga alas kwatro kwarenta ng hapon hinaras ng isang tim sa ilalim ng NPA-EMONEB ang tropa ng 58th IB at ng binubuhay nitong mga bandidong Alimaong na nakahimpil sa isang tradisyunal na bahay-tiponan (tulugan) ng Lumad. Nagresulta ito sa pagkapatay ng apat na pwersa ng kaaway at di tiyak na dami ng sugatan samantalang walang galos sa panig ng BHB.

6. Pebrero 14, 2017 – Pinagbabaril ng isang iskwad sa ilaim ng NPA-EMONEB ang CAFGU detatsment ng Sityo Palo, Brgy. Hindangon, Gingoog City. Umabot ng pitong minuto ang ginawang pagpapaputok ng pwersa ng BHB mula 11:53 hanggang alas dose ng gabi. Tatlo ang patay at lima ang sugatan sa kaaway samantalang ligtas na nakalayo ang BHB na kubli ang dilim ng gabi.

7. Pebrero 17, 2017- bandang ala-una ng hapon, hinaras ng isang iskwad ng NPA-SCB ang nag-operasyong kumpanya ng 8th IB sa Kulisaan Creek, Sityo Mahan-aw, Brgy. Bolonay na nasasaklaw ng Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. Dalawa ang napatay at dalawa rin ang nasugatan sa mga reaksyunaryong sundalo.

8. Pebrero 18, 2017 – bandang 6:30 ng hapon, dalawa ang sugatan sa isinagawang harassment ng isang tim sa ilalim ng NPA-SCB laban sa nag-ooperasyong tropa ng 8th IB sa Sityo Magawa, Brgy. Bolonay, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

9. Pebrero 21, 2017- bandang alas 6:30 ng umaga, naglunsad ng tsekpoynt ang isang yunit sa ilalim ng NPA-EMONEB Sub Regional Command sa Purok 4, Brgy. Pahindong, bayan ng Medina, Misamis Oriental.

10. Pebrero 23, 2017- hinaras ng isang tim sa ilalim ng NPA Western Agusan del Norte-Agusan del Sur (NPA-WANAS) Sub-regional Command ang tropa ng 23rd IB na naglunsad ng operasyong kombat sa Sityo Topside, Brgy. Mindulao, Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. Dalawa ang sugatan sa tropa ng 23rd IB.

11. Pebrero 27, 2017—tatlong beses na hinaras ng isang tim ng NPA-EMONEB ang isang kolum na pinamumunuan ni 1st Lt. Tomaques ng 58th IB na naglunsad ng operasyong kombat sa Brgy. Kaulayanan, Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental. Nagsimula ang nasabing harassment sa may 6:45 ng umaga at nasundan pa ito ng dalawang ulit. Nagdulot ang lahat na aksyon na ito ng pagkasawi ng dalawang tropa ng kaaway, isa nito si PFC Oshin Rosala at sugatan ang apat na sina Pfc. Vincent Nino Lopez; Pfc. Marquin Variacion; Privates Regie Joy Duyan at Ramon Balibagon.

Sa petsa ring iyon, sinira bilang parusa ng NPA-SCB ang isang boom spray ng DAVCO Banana Plantation sa Brgy. Merangiran, Quezon, Bukidnon.

12. Pebrero 28, 2017—isang ambus ang inilunsad ng isang kumpanya sa ilalim ng NPA-EMONEB laban sa isang kolum ng 58th IB na naglunsad ng operasyong kombat sa magubat na bahagi ng Brgy. Kaulayanan, Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental. Tinayang umabot sa dalawang oras at kalahati ang sagupaan. Hindi nagtagumpay ang BHB sa paglipol ng kaaway at napilitan itong umatras dahil dumating ang reimporsment ng kaaway na jet fighter at nanghulog ng bomba. Sinabayan pa ito ng 105mm howitzer kanyon ng kaaway. Ang nabanggit na sagupaan nagresulta sa pagkasawi ng dalawang sundalo at pagkasugat ng apat. Sa panig ng BHB, nakatamo ng di malubhang sugat ang apat na Pulang mandirigma.

Isa ring aksyong militar ang inilunsad ng NPA-SCB sa Quezon, Bukidnon sa pamamagitan ng pagdis-arma kay Mayor Gregorio Lloren Gue. Nakumpiska mula sa kanya ang apat na handguns at dalawang armalite.

13. Marso 5, 2017– Dalawang magkasunod na harassment ang inilunsad ng isang tim ng BHB sa ilalim ng NPA-EMONEB laban sa isang kolum ng 58th IB na naglunsad ng operasyong kombat sa Sityo Pugahan, Brgy. Bunal, Salay, Misamis Oriental. Unang hinaras ang kolum ng kaaway bandang 8:45 ng umaga at naulit ito sa may 9:10 din ng umaga. Nagdulot ang lahat ng mga ito sa pagkasawi ng isa at pagkasugat sa tatlo sa panig ng kaaway samantalang walang galos sa panig ng BHB.

Samatala, isang yunit din ng NPA-EMONEB ang nagparalisa sa isang water tanker ng isang kontraktor ng Del Monte Philippines Inc. (DMPI) sa Brgy. San Juan, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

14. Marso 10, 2017- isang aksyong punitibo ang inilunsad ng isang yunit ng NPA-EMONEB laban sa plantasyon ng saging sa pamamagitan ng pagpuputol ng mga puno nito sa Brgy. Mat-i, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. Umaabot ng 6,000 puno o tatlong ektarya ang kanilang nasira.

15. Marso 18, 2017 – isang harasment ang inilunsad ng isang tim sa ilalim ng NPA-Mt. Kitanglad Sub-Regional Command laban sa naglunsad ng operasyong kombat na sakop ng 1st Special Forces Battalion sa bulubunduking bahagi ng Brgy. Baylanan, Talakag, Bukidnon. Dalawa ang naiulat na patay sa panig ng kaaway samantalang walang galos sa panig ng BHB.

16. Marso 20, 2017 – Tatlong magkasabay na harasment ang inilunsad ng tatlong iskwad na kasapi ng NPA-EMONEB laban sa tatlong CAA patrol base sa ilalim ng 58th IB. Ang dalawang patrol base ay matatagpuan sa mga sityo ng Lantad at Kawali na parehong saklaw ng Brgy. Kibanban at ang ikatlo ay sa Brgy. Quezon. Parehong saklaw ang mga barangay na ng bayan ng Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. Sabay na inilunsad ang harasment sa may bandang alas singko ng umaga na umabot ng lima hanggang sampung minuto. Ligtas na nakalayo ang pwersa ng BHB samantalang hinihintay pa ang ulat mula sa larangan sa detalye ng pinsala sa panig ng kaaway.

Simula nang tapusin ang unilateral na pansamantalang tigil putukan noong Pebrero 10, 2017, 20 taktikal na opensiba ang inilunsad ng NPA-NCMR. Walo sa 28 na aksyon mula Enero 30 kabilang sa aktibong depensa ng NPA laban sa mga probokatibong aksyon ng tropa ng AFP/PNP/CAFGU panahon ng tigil putukan sa loob ng mga sonang gerilya ng rebolusyonaryong estado.

Kahit pinagmamayabang ni Pres. Duterte na pauulanan niya ng bomba ang NPA ilalim sa kaniyang todong gera, hindi nito natinag ang rehiyon na harapin ang nasabing hamon. Salamat sa mga masa na naging inspirasyon at nagsikap na suportahan ang kanilang hukbo upang ito’y magtagumpay.

NDF/NPA-FSM: Red fighters hit Consunji-hired AFP Marines in Sultan Kudarat

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Mar 21): Red fighters hit Consunji-hired AFP Marines in Sultan Kudarat  

New People’s Army Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command
Far South Mindanao
March 21, 2017

The 2nd Marine Company of the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-8) suffered heavy casualties in the aftermath of a tactical offensive launched March 21, by Red fighters of Mt. Daguma Sub-Regional Command at Km. 30, Sityo Tinagdanan, Brgy. Hinalaan, Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat. Seven marine troops were killed while several others were severely wounded.

The offensive was carried out as a punitive action against the AFP’s elite Marine force that for several years now functioned as paid guard dogs protecting the destructive enterprises of landgrabber bourgeois- comprador David Consunji, especially his open-pit mining David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI). The troops were conducting combat operation in Kalamansig against the NPA unit in the area.

Red fighters hit Consunji-hired AFP Marines in Sultan Kudarat

The Marine Brigade in Far South is desperately lying through its teeth in claiming that 6 Red fighters were killed by their artillery bombardment after the NPA’s successful tactical offensive. Not one of the NPA units in Sultan Kudarat was hit by their bombardment. The AFP’s artillery strike, however, managed to damage farms and forest covers in the hinterlands of Brgy. Hinalaan and adjacent barrios.

Apart from indiscriminate bombardment, reinforcement ground troops of the AFP have begun to sow further terror in Kalamansig town. Houses were destroyed while the communities around Brgy. Hinalaan were hamletted. Several families have already evacuated to other barangays and in Kalamansig town. Mateo Gantangan, a farmer, was arrested and detained at the Marine headquarters in Kalamasig.

The Lumad tribes, especially the Dulangan Manobo, and peasants in Kalamansig and neighboring towns have lived in mortal fear of Consunji and the armed minions comprised of the SCAA-38th IB, the 2nd Marine Company and the 57th IB. Since the 1980s, Consunji brazenly purloined 102,954 hectares of land from the Lumad and peasants of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Maguindanao for his various businesses, including a logging concession that deforested large mountain areas in these provinces. With the aid of AFP troops in his employ, Consunji perpetrated numerous human rights violations to quell the resistance of the masses.

The upcoming continuation of the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP must effect the dismantling of Consunji’s vast destructive enterprise and ensure that the Lumad and peasants are given back the right to the productive lands they lost in the greedy hands of this landgrabber. Meanwhile, the NPA in Far South Mindanao will continue to carry out punitive actions against his businesses and the AFP troops that perpetuate injustice against the masses in the region.

Spokesperson, Valentin Palamine Command
New People’s Army Regional Operations Command

DWDD: Gov’t troops in Quezon encounter anew

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 23): Gov’t troops in Quezon encounter anew


Two weeks after the successful operation in Quezon Province wherein seven high-powered firearms were recovered (two AK47, four M16 rifles, and one M203), government troops in the area encountered anew yesterday, March 22, 2017, around 1:00 in the afternoon.

While conducting combat patrol, a squad from the Bantad Patrol Base, under the operational control of 85th Infantry Battalion encountered more or less 10 armed rebels at Sitio Kumba, Brgy San Diego Bukid, Gumaca, Quezon.

After 15 minutes of a firefight, the enemies scampered to different directions. No casualty was reported on the government while the undetermined number of the enemies.

According to MGen Rhoderick Parayno, Commander of 2nd Division, the troops are still conducting pursuit operations in order to track down the fleeing enemies.

Likewise, he stressed that the said encounter is a result of the Division’s continuous operations since the ceasefire was terminated.

“The enemies’ continuous defeat shows that the NPAs are slowly getting hard up especially that the communities are reporting their presence,” he added.

Meanwhile, after the ceasefire was terminated in February, 2ID has already recorded seven killed NPAs, seven apprehended, and two surrendered, while 12 high-powered and two low-powered firearms along with various ammunitions and explosives were recovered.

Philippine Navy graces LIMA 2017 opening

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 22): Philippine Navy graces LIMA 2017 opening

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The Philippine Navy (PN) the Flag Officer in Command (FOIC), PN, Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph S. Mercado attended the opening ceremony of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA 2017) conducted yesterday, March 22, 2017. 

The Aerospace segment tipped off at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) which showcased top of the aircraft and aircraft accessories that could provide commercial and military grade advantages in aviation spectrum. Likewise, the launching of the Maritime segment of LIMA 2017 was situated at the Resorts World Langkawi (RWL) which featured a sea rescue capability demonstration of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN). Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was in attendance.

“An opportunity for us (PN) to widen our knowledge particularly on modern maritime technologies”, emphasized by Vice Adm. Mercado on PN’s goal in LIMA 2017.

Included in this International Defense and Security Engagement are the attendance of the FOIC, PN in the Chief of Navy Roundtable Talks (CNRT) and the participation of BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17) in the LIMA Sea Exercise (LSX), a half-day Multinational Naval Exercise among participating countries.

LIMA is one of the most influential exhibitions in Asia since this is a dedicated maritime and aerospace exhibition for defense, civil and commercial aviation, shipbuilding and ship repair.

The Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines General Eduardo C Año AFP and his staff were also in attendance in the said exhibition.

DWDD: Navy Bags International Hall of Fame Award

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 22): Navy Bags International Hall of Fame Award

 Philippine Navy

Headquarters Philippine Navy, Roxas Blvd., Manila – The Philippine Navy (PN) is now globally recognized as one of the best organizations in terms of strategy execution after being inducted in the Palladium Balanced Scorecard (BSC) Hall of Fame (HoF) for Executing Strategy on March 21.

Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Adm. Gaudencio C. Collado Jr received the award on behalf of the Navy during the Palladium Summit 2017 in London, United Kingdom. He was accompanied by the Director of the Center for Naval Leadership and Excellence, Capt. Armil M. Angeles.

The Navy is the first national government agency in the country to join the outstanding line of Palladium BSC Hall of Famers. It is comprised of public and private organizations that have successfully implemented their strategies and delivered positive social impact using the BSC management framework, including Canon, HSBC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Army, and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense. From the Philippines, only three local government units (LGUs), Iloilo City, and San Fernando City in Pampanga and La Union have been previously inducted into the Palladium BSC Hall of Fame. The City of Balanga, Bataan also joins the Hall of
Fame alongside the Navy.

The recognition was given to the Navy successfully presented a compelling case of sustainable transformation and institutionalization of good governance through the PN Strategic Sail Plan 2020. Crafted in 2006 as the main organizational development strategy of the PN, the Sail Plan aimed to lift the organization from the dismal state of its institution, personnel morale, and ships and assets. Since then, the Sail Plan has served as the PN’s north star in pursuing its vision to be a strong and credible navy that our maritime nation can be proud of by 2020. The Sail Plan adopted the BSC as its management framework, aligned and synchronized with existing government and defense policy frameworks.

In his acceptance speech, Rear Admiral Collado described how the recognition is both “a seal of approval from the makers of the [BSC themselves] and a challenge…to continue growing, learning, and innovating” in order for the Navy to make its vision a reality. He welcomed the recognition as a constant reminder that the PN is on track and must remain committed in order to take big leaps toward its aspirations.

DWDD: Localized peace talks with NPA underway, Sara says

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 22): Localized peace talks with NPA underway, Sara says

nueva ecija

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija – Joint elements of the 703rd Infantry (Agila) Brigade, the 56th Infantry (TATAG) Battalion, and the Philippine National Police – Nueva Ecija nabbed a certain Alyas Isaac/Moises, front secretary of Platun Nueva Ecija-Nueva Vizcaya-Eastern Pangasinan on March 22, 2017.

Troops nabbed Alyas Isaac/Moises at Brgy. Gen. Luna, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija while conducting an intel-driven combat operation, acting on the report of the local populace who has become tired of the NPA’s extortion activities. He was initially brought to the Municipal Police Station of Carranglan, Nueva Ecija for investigation and later turned over to the Nueva Ecija Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC).

Recovered from Alyas Isaac/Moises’ possession are the following: one (1) caliber 9mm with live ammunition, one (1) apple laptop complete with accessories, two (2) hand grenades, one (1) improvised explosive device (IED), two (2) cellular phones, 23 USBs, 23 memory cards, 16 sim cards, two (2) cellular phone chargers, one (1) transistor radio, three (3) pieces AA battery, two (2) civilian packs, eyeglasses, a power bank, flashlight, documents with high intelligence value and other personal belongings.

Alias Isaac/Moises has a standing warrant of arrest for homicide issued on 2011.

Localized peace talks with NPA underway, Sara says

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 22): Localized peace talks with NPA underway, Sara says

MAYOR Sara Duterte-Carpio said the city government and the New People’s Army (NPA)’s political units are still drafting written agreements for localized peace talks.

Duterte said she would rather have a written agreement instead of conducting talks of an “extemporaneous” nature.

“I would rather have it written,” Duterte said.

Last month, Duterte and the NPA agreed to hold localized peace talks.
However, the NPA maintained that the rebel group would be represented by members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The call for a dialogue came after a clash in the Paquibato and Calinan Districts led to the death of at least five last Feb. 16.
Duterte called for the talks days after the clash.

“My offer is limited by my authority over the area of my responsibility. I suggest you think about this offer seriously since this will benefit you, our fellow Dabawenyos, and our beloved city. In the event that you will decline my offer, I can only pray that there will be no more deaths and leave everything to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and to God,” she said.

GPH, MILF sign TOR for peace pact implementation

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): GPH, MILF sign TOR for peace pact implementation

Representatives of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have signed the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the implementation of the three-year-old final peace agreement.

The TOR, which they signed in a “special meeting” in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, is contained in a five-page document that spells out the parameters and other guidelines on how the two parties will work together in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The special meeting on Tuesday was the second time that the two parties met in Kuala Lumpur under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. The first meeting was held in August 2016, where both parties agreed to pursue the implementation of the agreed peace deal.

President Duterte earlier vowed to honor all Bangsamoro peace agreements signed by previous administrations.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has created a Peace and Development Roadmap to address the political clamor of insurgent groups in the country.

Under the government peace roadmap for the Bangsamoro, all peace agreements such as the MILF’s CAB and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well as the key results of the 10-year-old GPH-Organization of Islamic Cooperation-MNLF Tripartite Review Process will be integrated into the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will create a new Bangsamoro government unit.

The new Bangsamoro government unit will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Among the agreed TOR are for the parties to work towards the passage of the BBL--the legal document of the CAB; and, to ensure the smooth implementation of the normalization process, which includes the decommissioning of MILF combatants.

The TOR reflects the new mandate of the two panels--from negotiations to implementation of the peace deal.

In their joint statement following the day-long “special meeting,” the two parties also welcomed the new Malaysian facilitator, Dato' Kamarudin bin Mustafa.

Dato’ took over the position following the demise of the previous facilitator, YM Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafarbi Tengku Mohamed, last year.

The parties also agreed to extend for another year the ceasefire mechanisms, namely the tour of duty of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and Ad Hoc Joint Action Group.

N. Cotabato militiaman arrested for shooting dead military supervisor

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): N. Cotabato militiaman arrested for shooting dead military supervisor

Cops arrested a militiaman here for shooting dead on Tuesday night his supervising military officer inside their detachment in Barangay Labuo.

Lt. Silver Belviz, operations officer of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, identified the victim as Corporal Michael Todenio, 48, a resident of Davao City and assigned with the Army’s 72nd Company.

The suspect was identified as Noli Cabaya, 47, a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) residing in Barangay Tuael, this town.

Police probers said that at around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Todenio, as detachment commander, reprimanded Cabaya due to the latter’s irregular attendance. It led to a heated argument that triggered the shooting incident.

Todenio sustained fatal gunshot wounds from the M1 Garand rifle issued to the suspect.

The victim was brought to a local hospital but was declared dead on arrival by doctors.

The suspect fled but was later arrested by pursuing authorities at his residence.

NPA rebels burn heavy equipment at Del Monte's Bukidnon plantation

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): NPA rebels burn heavy equipment at Del Monte's Bukidnon plantation

Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels burned a heavy equipment used by Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) in Bukidnon, a belated military report here said Wednesday.

Capt. Norman Tagros, spokesperson of the Army 401st Brigade, said communist rebels raided the DMPI plantation in the outskirt of Malaybalay City on Monday night and disarmed and seized the firearms of private security guards before burning the heavy equipment.

He said that a tractor, three boom harvesters and a Skinner were burned before the rebels withdrew under cover of darkness.

Tagros said the police and the military sent a combined team of operatives to pursue the rebels, but they have not made contact as of Wednesday.

He said that an investigation to determine whether the heavy equipment were owned by the DMPI or company contractors is still going on.

“We want to find out whether DMPI or a sub-contractor owns the heavy equipment because there were reports that the DMPI owns the equipment,” Tagros said.

Last week, NPA rebels also burned a fuel tanker owned by a sub-contractor of DMPI in the company’s plantation in the outskirt of Balingasag, one of the rebel-infested towns, east of Misamis Oriental.

NPA ranking officer nabbed in Nueva Ecija

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): NPA ranking officer nabbed in Nueva Ecija

Joint elements of the Philippine Army’s 703rd Infantry (Agila) Brigade, 56th Infantry “Tatag” Battalion and Nueva Ecija police arrested on Wednesday a ranking officer of the New People's Army (NPA) in Barangay General Luna, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Louie DS. Villanueva, Tatag battalion commander based in Barangay Calabuanan, in this town, identified the arrested ranking communist rebel as Ramil Tucay, also known as Ka Isaac/Moses, secretary of NPA Guerrilla Front Platun Nueva Ecija - Nueva Vizcaya - Eastern Pangasinan.

Villanueva said Tucay was apprehended while the military and police troops were conducting intel-driven combat operation following a report of the locals who were tired of the NPA’s extortion activities.

He said Tucay was initially brought to the municipal police station of Carranglan, Nueva Ecija and was later turned over to the Nueva Ecija Provincial Public Safety Company.

Report handed to Philippine News Agency (PNA) showed that the troops seized one caliber 9mm with live ammunitions, one laptop with complete accessories, two hand grenades, one improvised explosive device (IED), two cellular phones, 23 USBs, 23 memory cards, 16 sim cards, two cellular phone chargers, one transistor radio, three pieces of AA battery, two civilian packs, eyeglasses, a power bank, flashlight, subersive documents with high intelligence value and other personnal belongings.

Tucay has a standing warrant of arrest for homicide issued in 2011, manifesting his involvement in different atrocities and criminal activities in the said areas , which is also under the 56th IB.

Villanueva is grateful to the people in the area who are very active in reporting the presence of NPAs.

“It is always our business to do military operations and we are very thankful to the people who reported to us for the immediate arrest of Tucay early this morning,” Villanueva said, pointing out that the Philippine Army will not allow the NPA guerillas to continue their attrocities, lies and deceptions to the public, more so in sowing fear and terror to the community.

Relative to this, Major General Angelito M. De Leon, commanding general of 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” division based in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City said that there are now less than 200 NPA armed regulars in Central Luzon amid the wave of surrenders by rebels and losses in tactical offensives waged by the military.

He said rebels have been severely crippled due to the series of operations by government troops in Regions 1,2 and 3 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) that are under the jurisdiction of the 7th ID.

"The insurgency problem is now manageable with the conduct of our counter-insurgency (COIN) operations and the surrender of armed rebels over the past months,” he said.

Because of the government’s success in the COIN campaign, Bataan province has been declared insurgency-free last September while all provinces under the 7th ID, except Abra province, have been cleared of NPA presence.

In addition, De Leon said the Ilocos Region, parts of Central Luzon and the CAR as well as two municipalities of Mountain Province have already been declared as peaceful and ready for development.

“By peaceful and ready for development, what we mean is it will undergo the normalization process,” he explained.

In 2016 alone, De Leon said there were 24 NPA rebels and 47 members of the Marxista Leninista Partido ng Pilipinas/Rebolusyong Hukbong Bayan (MLPP/RHB) who surrendered to authorities while two of them were killed and one arrested in three major tactical encounters.

The government troops also recovered 29 firearms, he added.

“But beyond these encounters, we continue to convince our brothers in the mountains to return to the folds of the law,” he added.